Let’s assume your safe driving policy is in place. It’s a comprehensive, all-inclusive policy that adheres to the National Safety Council’s recommendations for an organization-wide policy prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving and follows industry standard fleet driver safety tips. It’s a best-practices policy that lays out the correct procedures to follow in order to ensure fleet safety. It’s also a policy that requires you as a fleet manager to instigate a total fleet safety program.
With that done its time to consider some key guidelines and fleet driver safety tips for creating a fleet driver safety program. These can be divided into two categories:
- General safety tips for fleet management (or fleet management companies) to consider when putting together a company safe driving program.
- Practical, everyday safety tips for fleet drivers. These are practical everyday guidelines that should feature in all safety training programs as well as behind-the-wheel safe driving evaluations.
General Tips for Creating a Fleet Driver Safety Program
Get Commitment From Leadership
- A best practice safety program should be leader-led. Leaders from all sectors of the business (fleet management, HR management, safety administration, those responsible for hiring and training drivers, etc.) must communicate that road safety is a priority in order to avoid fleet accidents and ensure occupational safety.
- They must serve as role models for road safety and be seen to model their behavior on the recommendations contained in your company’s safety policy.
Promote Safe Driving Practices
Here are some of the general practices that must be adhered to within a company. These guidelines adhere not only to the procedural requirements laid out in the safe driving policy, but also to all local, state, and Federal laws that apply to a workplace.
- The best and safest action for employers is to implement a total ban policy that includes handheld and hands-free devices and prohibits all employees from using cell phones while driving. This policy should be reinforced throughout the year with education.
- Encourage drivers to be clear to callers on your voicemail that they are cell phone-free and not available to make calls while driving.
- Set up conference calls at least a week in advance, allowing employees who drive frequently to plan their driving route so they’re available to park during these windows of time.
- Before conference calls, establish if any of the participants are driving. If so, request that they hang-up and call back when they are in a safe location.
- Drivers should establish regular times when callers can contact them and when they will return calls.
- Have open dialogues with supervisors and co-workers about the need to re-evaluate workload to factor in time for call-backs while driving.
- Never dress or groom while driving.
- Never drive drowsy and if a driver is feeling drowsy behind the wheel, they should immediately pull off the road and find a safe place to rest.
Training and Evaluation
- Provide driver safety training as soon as possible after hiring anyone whose job includes driving.
- Consider reviewing motor vehicle records at least once a year for every fleet driver and twice a year for high-risk drivers or drivers with a bad driving record.
- Provide corrective training to drivers who are involved in any vehicle accidents where they were at fault.
- Conduct regular on-the-road evaluations of drivers’ driving skills, driving habits and behaviors and give training on any deficiencies recorded. Provide driving safety tips that cover wearing a seat belt, proper safe following distance, driving in bad weather, icy roads, poor weather conditions, poor road conditions, blind spots , following the speed limit, and general highway safety(Companies with the best road safety scores generally provide “refresher” driver training every 2 to 3 years).
- Reinforce the company’s safe driving policy through regular reminders and emphasize the importance of ending distracted driving.
- Include driver performance metrics into employee performance evaluations.
Penalties and Rewards
- You cannot monitor compliance with your company’s safety policy or distracted driver avoidance program without clearly explaining the penalties for failing to follow recommended driving protocols. This will go a long way towards smooth fleet operations and proper policy enforcement.
- Don’t put all the focus on penalties either: instigate a reward system in order to incentivize drivers to behave safely on the road.
Ensure Your Fleet Vehicles Are Safe and Well Maintained
- Implement a schedule for the maintenance of company fleet vehicles that adheres to manufacturers’ specifications.
- Instruct fleet drivers to conduct pre- and post-journey vehicle inspections, and record that defective vehicles have been repaired.
- Provide information about proper vehicle maintenance to employees who drive their own vehicles for work purposes.
If your company decides to incorporate safe driving tech solutions such as distracted driving apps into its commercial fleet, solutions that have the capacity not just to give administrators control over employees mobile device usage, but also collects driver behavior data and scores phone use, then a company must do the following:
- Explain to workers why the system is being put in place.
- Use the data to improve safety, not to put pressure on employees to drive too fast or too long to meet targets.
- Make sure that drivers get timely coaching to help them understand how these tech safe driving solutions work and will affect driving.
Practical Safety Tips for Fleet Drivers
Here are recommended fleet driver safety training tips to follow before a vehicle heads out on the road:
- Send and read text messages and emails before you start the engine.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- Plan your route in advance. This will reduce stress while driving.
- Store loose gear and paperwork in the proper compartments so that they don’t move around the truck and you won’t have to reach for them while driving.
- Make all adjustments such as setting GPS, climate control, sound systems, mirrors and seats. Also, make sure any fleet management tools are setup before driving, such as telematics or fleet tracking products.
Here are recommended fleet driver safety training tips to follow while driving to stay safe on the road:
- Never use a phone while driving – Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. If a driver must make a phone call, they should pull over to a safe place and make the call.
- Don’t multitask – Multitasking is a myth. Human brains do not perform two tasks at the same time; doing so is a serious impairment to driving. Activities like texting, video chatting, and social media posting while driving are serious distractions that lead to aggressive driving or defensive driving, which causes serious motor vehicle crashes.
- Don’t eat/drink while driving – Eating or drinking while driving can be a significant distraction. Drivers should eat before or after their journeys and, if necessary, they should come off the road and park in a safe place to eat.
- Avoid complicated tasks – Using technology, such as voice-activated systems or hands-free devices, may seem safe, but they are not. In fact, the superior safety of hands-free devices over handheld devices is another myth in need of busting.
- Keep eyes on the road – Drivers should keep their eyes on the road and avoid looking at things like buildings or billboards. It’s recommended that drivers move their eyes every two seconds and scan mirrors every five to eight seconds.
- Do not make calls or check/send emails while stopped at a traffic light (the majority of traffic crashes occur at intersections.)
- Plan “rest” periods into your trips every two to three hours to check emails and return calls.
- While driving, forward calls to a central location where someone else can deal with your calls. That person decides if the call is urgent and requiring attention, in which case an “emergency hotline number” with a distinct ringtone will alert the driver to park and return the call ASAP.
The above fleet safe driving policy tips will go a long way in helping fleet management implement and enforce safe driving procedures in their company.